Union trucks are parked outside of the Sylvania Area Family Services in Sylvania.
As Jason Robertson watched local families struggle during the darkest moments of the Great Recession, the executive director of Sylvania Area Family Services had financial worries of his own.
Work on a 5,000-square-foot expansion had stopped because of budget shortfalls after 2008. The $750,000 project was far from completion and didn't have an end in sight.
“We knew we needed the space. The increased need with the economy, it's why we expanded,” Mr. Robertson said. “It's kind of a Catch 22.”
Sylvania Area Family Services, which provides food, heat and rent assistance, and community programs, had no one to help it during a time of need.
Erin Curley, design coordinator for Architecture By Design, the Sylvania company that helped design the expansion, said the project looked bleak. What was supposed to be an addition to the facility was just an empty shell.
“It was an open building that looked like a barn with studs,” she said.
Although the project eventually received $350,000 in government funding as the economy improved, it was far from making a dent in the overall budget. That's when Ms. Curley acted.
Erin Curley, an architecture designer at Architecture by Design, explains the progress of the construction of the new wing to Richard Velandra, who is helping out at the Sylvania Area Family Services.
She reached out to her contacts at the local trade unions. She thought they might be willing to let apprentices gain experience by working on the project. She contacted the Toledo Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee; UA Local 50: Plumbers, Steamfitters & Service Mechanics; and the northwest chapter of the Ohio Carpenters’ Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program. With the help of the trades unions, the project was up and running.
In addition to providing the work to complete the addition, the organizations donated wiring, pipes, outlets, and fixtures for the building.
“Any time that we can, being a labor force, when we can help out, we do,” said Ray Struffolino, and instructor and journeyman at the TEJATC. “We do a lot of Habitat [for Humanity] houses. Our belief is that we like to give back to the community; we like to take our skills and utilize them to help people.”
Mr. Struffolino said he didn't know how many man hours and how much money had been funneled to the building on Marshall Road, north of Alexis Road near the post office.
The project is on track to be finished by the end of July, Ms. Curley said. Without the aid of the unions, the project wouldn't have been possible, she said.
“They have basically done everything. The carpenters came in and finished all the wall insulation and all the drywall. The electricians and plumbers really have stepped up,” she said.
“They have helped both with labor and donations of materials. They ran all the conduits, all the wire, all the lighting and switches. This was all material that was donated by them.”
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